Monday, August 16, 2010

Alternative Lifestyles

Part 1 -- Pyramids in Argentina
Part 2 -- Bricks without straw
Part 3 -- Still Thinking
Part 4 -- Health
Part 5 -- Food for Thought

Make this word part of your vocabulary: alternatives. We need to have alternatives for all the things we consider a normal part of life here in the United States.

The REA had finally gotten electric lines to our part of the sticks a couple of years before I was born. Reliable delivery of electrical power was still a few years in the future at that point. I remember many times using kerosene lamps — the big glass ones that Mom and Dad had used before they got electricity — because the power would go out. Being in the dark is a drag. Keep plenty of batteries on hand. I know some have the expiration dates printed on them so you have an easier time keeping the older ones on top. I am amazed at the amount of light we can get from LED flashlights and lamps. They are very easy on batteries, and it would be wise to have several LED devices in various configurations. I am also a big fan of Maglites because they are so tough. I have a 3 D-cell Maglite that would floor a pachyderm. Rechargeable flashlights are good, but most of the ones I've had tend to lose their ability to hold a charge over time. Everybody should probably have at least one handcrank light.

Handcrank appliances like lights and radios that will also charge cellphones and other devices via USB connection or whatever could be really handy. I am not sure how they will hold up long term, but they are certainly worth having in an emergency. Solar chargers are another possibility.

Of course, the traditional low-tech light and heat sources such as candles and oil lamps and lanterns should be stocked along with some fuel.

In a short-term emergency, generators are valuable. I use a propane generator, but I'm not sure of the availability of propane. If I can't get propane, I probably can't get diesel or gasoline, either, and propane stores so much better. As I've said, I don't expect a complete collapse of civilization, just hard times. I think fuels will be available, albeit perhaps in more limited quantities and/or decreasing quality. If I can run a generator even briefly to power my water pump, it will make life much easier.

Clean water is essential. If the grid goes down, in many cases, a municipal water supply will keep going, at least for a time. It will still be clean and safe. Your basic indoor plumbing will also continue to function, even without electricity in many cases. That is not so for those of us out in the country who have our own wells. We have to be able to run power the water pump, have a store of water, or, possibly, have access to a spring or ground water of some sort. It's probably a good idea to have a few gallons of water at all times. Farm supply stores will often have fairly inexpensive 40 or 55 gallon plastic barrels with screw-on lids and spigots. Filling a couple of those barrels with water and adding the appropriate amount of chlorine will make for a decent emergency water supply. Setting them up on blocks or whatever will give you room to get a bucket under the little spout. I've even attached hoses to the spigot and elevated them on my tractor for watering plants that the hoses from the house won't reach. Remember a gallon of water weighes about 8 pounds. Forty gallons equals 320 pounds. Put the barrel where you want it before you fill it.

What about alternative means of transportation? I think gasoline and other fuels will be available, but more expensive and more difficult to acquire. What do you do if you can't get gas, or you can't get much gas? Can you ride your bicycle? How much can you haul on it? An old cruiser is probably better than a dedicated racer. Some mountain bikes are probably all right, depending on how they are set up. Is a bike trailer a possibility for increasing your hauling capacity? What about horses, mules, or other beasts of burden? If you have room, a horse or mule may be a feasibility. But they are not without their own needs, and, while they may consume alternative fuel, their care and feeding must be planned for in advance. They may not need tires, but they will need shoes. Be realistic about your ability to feed and care for animals in tough times.

Another option might be to use a motorcycle or motor scooter. These machines give you speed and range while requiring far less gasoline to keep them going. As the old folks said, walking ain't all been took up yet. You really can cover a considerable distance on foot if you are in moderately good shape. I recently did about ten miles in three hours while the heat index was over 100, and I was wearing black dress clothes and a pair of too-tight Noconas with Spanish riding heels. It's a long story, but the adrenaline only helped for the first three or four miles.

Rickshaws and sedan cars will probably work only if you are a good-looking female. But do use your imagination and consider the advantages and disadvantages of your personal situation. A rickshaw-type human-powered trailer will allow you to haul much heavier and bulkier loads. Forget the assault wheelbarrows. If you have a medium to large dog, you might use it to pull a cart or wagon. Maybe you could build a still and power your flex-fuel Silverado with moonshine. The important thing is to do what you can right now.

Start thinking of alternative ways to provide the essentials you will need. Do not think that the government is going to come along to bail us out. They are the cause of the problem. Government produces nothing and only has what it takes from others. If the "others" either have nothing or are part of the "ruling class" along with the politicians and bureaucrats, those of us out here in flyover country will be left to twist in the wind or take care of it ourselves.

I try not to worry about any of this stuff. I trust God. Prudence is not a lack of trust in God's power. There is such a thing as a gift of wisdom, which God will give to those who ask. Wisdom prepares for difficulties to the extent possible. It is simply the opposite of sloth and laziness. Wisdom says do what you can when you can. But wisdom never says to worry, fret, or fear, and the last thing I would want to do is cause a person to worry or to fear the future. Do what you can, fear not, and trust in the Lord.

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